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March 25, 2008

Top 10 Spring Vegetables

By Worker Bee
49 Comments

Ahh…Spring. The days are getting longer (or rather, the amount of daylight we get is getting longer), the temperatures are rising (depending on your geographical location) and all of a sudden we’re getting a little tired of the winter vegetables we’ve been subsisting on for the past 5 months or so.

Enter spring vegetables, in all their glory. Now, before we begin, a disclaimer: Since the weather in the spring can be so unpredictable – with some regions still up to their eyeballs in snow and others enjoying significantly warmer weather – we’ve included a link to a website that can tell you, based on the state that you live in, which fruits and vegetables are reaching their peak.

And so to our top spring season vegetables for 2008…

Artichoke:

Bringing to the table a high content of fiber, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and other essential minerals, there isn’t much artichokes can’t do. Specifically, they have been associated with promoting liver health, particularly among folks who drink alcohol heavily or otherwise have compromised liver function, as well as staving off arteriosclerosis, gout, and migraine headaches. In addition, artichokes are thought to improve gall secretions, lower blood sugar, and improve digestion. Not bad, ey?

Asparagus:

Although asparagus’s peak season is considered to run from April to May, in warmer climes, the green spears can appear as early as February. In addition to being easy to prepare – steamed, grilled, oven roasted… the choice is yours! – asparagus packs a whopping 114% of recommended daily allowance (RDA) per 1 cup serving of vitamin K, which is important for bone health, and nearly 66% RDA of folate, which helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

Avocado:

Due to the wonders of transport, we can now enjoy avocados virtually year round, even though they’re typically considered a spring fruit on the West Coast and a fall fruit in Florida. (Yes, we know. Not technically a vegetable.) Often times when we discuss avocados, we get caught up in discussing its “good fats.” Specifically, we’re referring here to its oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that is thought to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL). However, avocado is also considered an excellent source of folate, providing 23% per 1 cup serving, as well as health-promoting carotenoids – whose absorption is aided by the oleic acid – including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein. In addition, a study in October 2007 edition of Seminars in Cancer Biology suggested that the phytonutrients in Haas avocados may stave off oral cancer – which has a 50% mortality rate – by increasing the amount of free radicals within pre-cancerous and cancerous human oral cell lines, leading to their death but causing no harm to surrounding normal cells.

Celeriac:

Looks can be deceiving when it comes to celeriac, which despite its knobbled and gnarled appearance, is actually one attractive addition to your diet! Stock up on this vegetable in the spring months for its high levels of vitamin C, vitamin K, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium and manganese, which are important for blood health. In addition to these nutrients, celeriac is an excellent source of dietary fiber, which is important for digestive health and can help you feel satiated for longer.

Fennel:

Unless you live in a relatively mild climate, fennel is one vegetable that is only offered in the spring. Revered for its unique licorice-like flavoring, fennel contains a unique blend of phytonutrients – including the flavonoids rutin, quercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides – that make it a powerful antioxidant. Specifically, these compounds are thought to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer, and when combined with fiber, as is the case in fennel, can help eliminate potentially carcinogenic toxins from the colon to prevent colon cancer. Try it with avocado in a delicious salad.

Fiddlehead Ferns:

Not only good for adding a touch of whimsy to floral arrangements, fiddlehead ferns—or fiddlehead greens as they are sometimes called – actually taste quite similar to asparagus and offer many of the same health benefits. Specifically, the ferns are an excellent source of vitamin A, which is important for eye health, and a good source of vitamin C, making them a popular choice for warding off scurvy back in the day! In addition, the ferns provide some fiber and are also rich in iron, potassium, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium and phosphorous.

Mustard Greens:

Great for infusing a little flavor into your salad or as a side dish all on their lonesome, mustard greens – whose season runs through the end of April – are perhaps most prized for their high vitamin K, A and C content. Like the three musketeers, these vitamins team up to fight free radicals and protect the body against the types of cell damage that could leave it susceptible to health conditions. In addition, mustard greens contain numerous nutrients that can contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system, including beta-carotene, vitamin B6, folic acid and magnesium. For the ladies, mustard greens also provide calcium to boost bone strength and may also help temper some symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and sleep interruptions.

Radishes:

Although available year-round in the supermarket, we include radishes simply because they won’t be around when the temperature soars and we think you need to get ‘em while the getting’s good! What’s so great about radishes? Well, the little red and white bulbs pack a hefty dose of vitamin C, which serves as both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and also serves as an excellent source of potassium, which is important for kidney and blood health.

Vidalia Onions:

Although other onion varieties are available year round, it’s worth stocking up on sweet Vidalia onions during their short spring season. These onions – which make a great addition to salads, dressings and egg dishes – contain more than one hundred sulfur-containing compounds which, in addition to being the cause of the teary eyes, are also thought to reduce the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory ailments. In addition, onions – which log only about 30 calories per 1 cup serving – provide a health dose of flavonoids, which are thought to offer a protective benefit against several forms of cancer, particularly those affecting the breast. Unlike traditional onions, Vidalia onion’s high water content makes them a little bit trickier to store. We recommend wrapping them first in a paper towel and then storing them in the crisper drawer of your fridge for best results.

Watercress:

Back in the day watercress – or scurvy grass as it was also once called – was used to treat just about anything: coughs, colds, tuberculosis, asthma, emphysema, stress, pain, arthritis, diabetes, anemia, constipation, failing eyesight, cancer, heart conditions, eczema, scabies, indigestion, alcoholism, intestinal parasites and kidney and gall stones and was even used as a deodorant for some time! And perhaps some of it holds true. We now know that watercress is an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamins A, B1 and B6, C, E and K and also contains abundant iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. In addition, it also contains a flavonoid called quercetin that is thought to reduce inflammation and serve as a natural anti-histamine.

Share your favorite spring veggies in the comment boards!

.kaishin., itsjustanalias, Voxphoto, life’s a gasp, obscene_pickle, libraryman, pictoscribe, methoxyroxy, Julep67, svacher Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Top 10 Vegetables for the Winter Season

Slashfood: The End of Winter is Near

Veggie Chic: Baby Artichokes

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49 Comments on "Top 10 Spring Vegetables"

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[…] All you ever wanted to know about many spring veggies! […]

sarena
8 years 6 months ago

Yeah, on the weekend I ate watercress, mustard greens, radishes and artichokes. last night it was another artichoke. Today my menus include avocado and asparagus. How am I doing??

Oh and I love those fiddlehead ferns and fennel but didn’t see any last week at the greenmarket (either Weds or Fri!!). Will check again tomorrow.

And I always thought celeriac to be more of a winter veggie!

McFly
McFly
8 years 6 months ago

I much prefer the name “scurvy grass” to watercress. I’m headed to the wharf to grab some scurvy grass for my bubonic salad. It’s great for consumption!

Anna
8 years 6 months ago
Aaaahhhhh, artichokes, my favorite vegetable. My son’s too. Great fun for kids and adults to peel leaves, dip into easy homemade mayo with lemon, mustard, herbes de Provence and chopped capers, then scrape. I overdid the artichokes when we moved from the Right Coast to the Left Coast, though, and now my husband is sick of them. More for me. I often cut them in half, steam, and keep extras in the fridge a few days for quick veg additions to meals and my son’s school lunch box. We even have artichokes in our garden, because the plant is lovely… Read more »
Scott Kustes
8 years 6 months ago

Thanks for the link to what’s in season. I’ve been looking for a good list like that.

fiddlehead fern
8 years 6 months ago

For people who can’t find wild produce including fiddlehead ferns, watercress, miner’s lettuce and stinging nettles – MarxFoods.com sells it online (when in season) and ships directly from the source.

Migraineur
8 years 6 months ago

Drool.

charlotte
8 years 6 months ago

Speaking of new foods – have any of you heard of eating chia seeds? Yeah, like the kind you use to grow hair on your chia pet. I’ve heard that they are the best plant source of omega-3’s and don’t have the absorption problems of flax. Anyone know if this is true?

Ann Belonger
4 years 7 months ago

I’ve read about that also, from what I know it’s true and it’s the latest powerhouse of omega-3″s and are suppose to have 2x’s the protein of other seeds and grains.

Anna
8 years 6 months ago

I’ve heard about chia seeds, also purslane, being high in precursors for omega 3. But I still prefer animal sources, as the omega 3 is already formed. Not everyone makes the conversion well. Same for Vitamin A and carotenes. If I like the omega-3 precursor plants and they fit well in my diet in other ways, great, I eat them. But I think animal sources are more reliable for omega-3.

sarena
8 years 6 months ago

I actually use chia, milk thistle, flax and hemp seeds pretty regularly along with fenugreek. I just vary the mixture and add it to whatever I cooked (upon completion). Gives me some good fats and helps the system run smoothly!!

gkadar
gkadar
8 years 6 months ago

Shhh, I don’t want to spoil the fun, but Celeriac is an autumn veggie. Don’t tell anyone.

monica
8 years 6 months ago

Nice list. I’ve been passing up the celeriac all winter… what do people do with this stuff?

Marissa
Marissa
8 years 6 months ago

Food Network seems to think that celeriac is a spring veggie too:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/ck_cg_produce_guide/

It looks like there may be some confusion in the webosphere…

Migraineur
8 years 6 months ago
I think “seasonal” varies depending on climate. When I hear Anna talking about what’s in her CSA box in California in January (strawberries!), I know I won’t get those things until June, when it’s no doubt way to warm in Cali to grow strawberries. Of course, the fact that California produce is shipped everywhere in the country probably blurs the seasonality, so that might account for the spring/fall disagreement. Monica – I use celeriac much the way you might use potatoes – boiled and mashed with butter, or shredded and made into an un-potato pancake. Some people find the celery… Read more »
Anna
8 years 6 months ago
Migraineur is right about “seasonal” in CA. In San Diego county, many farms experience a 50 week growing season, though of course not everything grows that long, due to microclimates, etc. CSAs and Farmer’s Markets are all year here. Right now kumquats are in season and I’m loving it! I have learned to be very careful about buying gardening books & magazines since moving to CA 12 years ago from the Right Coast. Publications meant for the entire country often are completely upside down (or worse, useless) for So Cal in terms of seasons and plant varieties. I now stick… Read more »
gkadar
gkadar
8 years 6 months ago

I live in Canada and am of European ancestry. Except for the fact that celeriac can be stored, it’s no more a spring vegetable than rutabaga or turnip or kholrabi or beets.

Sure, southern U.S.A. farms grow stuff all year round. But it doesn’t make the produce that is brought here by semis ‘spring’ veggies. I’m sure there’s lots of winter veggies in Australia that couldn’t possibly be grown here under the ice and snow….:(

Anna
8 years 6 months ago

That’s why participating in a CSA or other local food source is great – it reminds up what is “truly” seasonal in our local area. It’s easy to lose track of seasonality in grocery stores, with semis and airplanes hauling in food from all over. Even if you can’t find a source dedicated to local foods, you can check the local farm bureau online and they’ll likely have some information about what is grown when.

Sherry Alpert
Sherry Alpert
8 years 5 months ago
I work with Dr. Phuli Cohan of Newton, MA, and she’s validated the dangers of bone density drugs. After an argument with my doctor, I quite Fosamax. Here’s Dr. Cohan’s blog posting from http://www.PhuliCohanMD.com. Sherry Alpert Bone Density Drugs Can Kill Your Bones—Canadian Study Confirms Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 Women have been telling me that when they discuss their concerns about the dangers of bone death (my last blog) from using bone loss drugs (Bisphosphonate), they were told, “Oh that’s just in patients with cancer” or “That’s just in women using high doses of medications intravenously.” This is not so,… Read more »
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[…] to know what’s in season in your area? Check out Sustainable Table. Hat tip to Mark’s Daily Apple for the link. Looking at my own state of Kentucky and comparing it to Southern California, Florida, […]

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[…] foods associated with Beltane include seasonal spring items, especially the first fresh vegetables.  Other foods have more symbolic connections.  Beltane recipes are available online or in books […]

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[…] Top 10 Spring Vegetables […]

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[…] Top 10 Spring Vegetables […]

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[…] Top 10 Spring Vegetables […]

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[…] Dupa o iarna lunga si grea organismul se resimte si are nevoie de minerale si vitamine pentru a se mentine in forma. Primavara este sezonul legumelor si fructelor si astfel iti vei adapta alimentatia sezonului, pentru a avea energia de care ai nevoie in fiecare zi. Oferta de legume si fructe de primavara este bogata, dar specialistii americani au alcatuit un top al celor mai recomandate alimente pentru acest sezon, informeaza Marksdailyapple.com. […]

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[…] lots of healthy animals and their fat, along with vegetables, and fruits and nuts on […]

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[…] lots of healthy animals and their fat, along with vegetables, and fruits and nuts on […]

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[…] Spring Vegetables – the ones that are in season and best to eat and everywhere you go… […]

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[…] sugar is less than that of apples and pears and grapefruit is loaded with vitamin C. As for the avocado and bacon in the salad, well, we don’t need to tell you again what great fans we are of both. And […]

Jeff
5 years 10 months ago

I haven’t used half of these in my cooking before…time to start experimenting.

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[…] Spring Vegetables, Summer Vegetables, Fall Vegetables, and Winter Vegetables by Worker Bee of Mark’s Daily Apple […]

jaidey baby
jaidey baby
5 years 14 days ago

hello i love your vegie

Jane
4 years 11 months ago

The foods look so tasty. I love all green foods

Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple
4 years 7 months ago

Right now in season here (So Cal with a CSA) – I’ve been eating a lot of greens … kale, cabbage, arugula, lettuce, bok choy. We’re also getting radishes, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, and “spicy salad mix”. I hear that mustard greens are coming this week.

Ann Belonger
4 years 7 months ago

Love artichoke and asparagus. Asparagus especially raw just picked.

James
4 years 3 months ago

Jess was wrong on

A) Cookie monster
B) Winter vegetables
C) Batman characters

Thanks

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[…] the body digest some vitamins & minerals. For a list of some of the healthiest vegetables look here, here and […]

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[…] around) who describes her transformative experience with a dairy-free Paleo diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meat and organs, and seaweed. Relegated to and totally dependent on a wheelchair in […]

Paris
3 years 6 months ago

I’m looking forward to planting the early potatoes – just a few weeks to go now!

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[…] primary objective. Of course, when you get rid of that crap and naturally limit your carb intake to veggies, root tubers and a few fruits, you almost invariably decrease carbs to under 150 grams a day. And […]

daedalus
daedalus
3 years 4 months ago

Ramps!!! Absolute must for any spring vegie list!

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[…] Watercress, with its fairly mild but peppery flavor, is an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamins A, B1 and B6, C, E and K, iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It also contains a flavonoid called quercetin that might reduce inflammation. […]

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[…] curry, the sauce pairs especially well with fish but can also be served over chicken or red meat. Watercress, with its fairly mild but peppery flavor, is an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamins A, B1 […]

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[…] Top 10 Spring Vegetables | Mark’s Daily Apple – Ahh…Spring. The days are getting longer (or rather, the amount of daylight we get is getting longer), the temperatures are rising (depending on your geographical …… […]

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[…] Top 10 Spring Vegetables | Mark’s Daily Apple – Ahh…Spring. The days are getting longer (or rather, the amount of daylight we get is getting longer), the temperatures are rising (depending on your geographical …… […]

grisly atoms
grisly atoms
11 months 8 days ago

In my family we have a tradition of eating watercress with a glass of dark red wine. Try it!I

I promise you will be amazed at the result.

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[…] “Revered for its unique licorice-like flavoring, fennel contains a unique blend of phytonutrients – including the flavonoids rutin, quercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides – that make it a powerful antioxidant.” – Mark Sisson […]

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